Specificity of Antibodies to Streptococcus Mutans; Significance in Inhibition of Adherence
Shortly after strains of Streptococcus mutans were shown to be cariogenic, they were found to produce dextran and levan polymers from sucrose. These polymers are responsible for the ability of S. mutans to adhere to, and colonize smooth surfaces of teeth (1–3; cf. reviews 4,5). The large molecular weight dextrans and levans are necessary for the formation of plaques on teeth which in turn, appears to be a requirement for cariogenicity. This is supported by the finding that a mutant of S. mutans, lacking the ability to produce these polymers, is no longer cariogenic (6). We have shown the adherence of S. mutans to wires can be inhibited by antiserum to whole S. mutans cells (7). In the same experiments we found that the production of cell-associated polysaccharide was inhibited by antisera, while cell growth was actually increased. The adherence of S. mutans to a glass surface has also been shown to be inhibited by antiserum to whole cells (8). Experiments in our laboratory have shown that antisera to S. mutans will inhibit the glucosyltransferases present in S. mutans culture fluids. These enzymes synthesize polymeric dextrans from sucrose (9). Recently, evidence has been presented (10) showing that the extracellular or soluble glucosyltransferases of S. mutans become cell-associated as insoluble dextran is synthesized. These results suggest that there is a receptor on the bacterial cell surface which binds glucosyltransferase-dextran complexes. The finding that whole cell antisera inhibit the adherence of S. mutans to wire and glass surfaces, inhibit the production of cell-associated polysaccharide synthesis while not inhibiting cell growth, and inhibit the synthesis of polyglucan-containing polysaccharides from sucrose by S. mutans glucosyltransferase enzymes suggests that antibodies prevent S. mutans from colonizing dental surfaces by interfering with the production of adherent polysaccharide polymers. The studies to be reported here show that the specificity of antibody-mediated inhibition of S. mutans adherence, and inhibition of glucosyltransferase activity do not always follow the specificity of surface antigens which are used to classify strains of S. mutans (11). The evidence presented indicates that adherence does not depend upon an antigen common to all S. mutans and hence if caries immunization via inhibition of adherence is to be successful, multivalent vaccines may be required.
KeywordsSucrose Titration Polysaccharide Beach Boiling
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